All Bayonetta Games, Ranked
To be honest, I enjoy all three Bayonetta mainline games. The spin-off, too, has undeniable perks. Despite the close call between these games, some not-so-minor details set them apart. Some are obvious enough to land the corresponding game at the bottom of the list, while others may need a keener eye to uncover. I won't call this a ranking from worst to best because all of the Bayonetta entries are fantastic in their own right. However, a few distinct differences distinguish some games as truly enjoyable, while others come pretty close. Without further ado, here's a list of all Bayonetta games ranked.
4. Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon (2023)
Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is a spin-off released on Switch on March 8, 2023. The game is a prequel to the Bayonetta series, telling the story of the titular protagonist before she becomes the femme force we've come to love. A young Bayonetta called Cereza, born of the Lumen Sages of light and the Umbra Witches of darkness, faces a dark fairy tale. As a result, Rosa, Cereza's mother, is imprisoned because such a relationship between the two clans is forbidden.
Cereza grows up as an outcast, soon wandering into the forbidden Avalon forest with a stuffed toy. During a full moon, she summons a demon and infuses it into her toy. The lost demon reluctantly agrees to accompany her on her adventure until Cereza finds a way to send him back to Inferno. Along the way, the two encounter gnarly fairies who want them dead, but she must master all courage in order to grow strong enough to become the elegant witch she was meant to be and find the power to save her mother.
While I rank Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon last, it's not because the game is bad; rather, it's a spin-off title that lacks the depth and high-octane action found in the mainline titles. Instead, PlatinumGames appeared to want to shift gears away from the Bayonetta series' kink, sex appeal, and bloodshed brand in order to create a whimsical, heartwarming story aimed at a younger audience. Regardless, Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon is an excellent entry with a family-friendly theme that will appeal to gamers of all ages.
3. Bayonetta 3 (2022)
Despite all of the innovations in Bayonetta 3, the game ended up dropping the ball, plain and simple. For starters, you can never have too many Bayonettas in your life, so being able to play as multiple Bayonettas from different parts of the multiverse sets Bayonetta 3 apart from the rest. Secondly, if you're going to have multiple Bayonettas, you'll need a bigger stage, an aspect which Bayonetta 3 nails to the core, thanks to its expansive settings and increased emphasis on exploration.
On the cons, the simplified combat of Bayonetta 3 makes it a bit easier to play and, thus, less replayable. However, it doesn’t take away the ridiculously fun time you have playing the game, well, except for the sad and painful moments, as is in line with the theme of despair and the world ending. To some extent, Bayonetta 3 felt a little too bleak that needed. Even in times of despair, it’s still great to inspire optimism, just as Bayonetta 1 and 2 managed to keep things light.
2. Bayonetta 2 (2014)
From here, things become a little more difficult because all of the Bayonetta mainline titles make a strong case. Nonetheless, Bayonetta 2 comes in third. Again, it's not a bad entry – in fact, it's quite good! However, the bosses, as well as the predictability of playing a “more Bayonetta” entry, are a letdown. That being said, Bayonetta 2 is a perfect example of picking up the ball and kicking it out of the park compared to its predecessor. This game improves on Bayonetta in a variety of ways, from addressing previous performance issues to adding more customization options to amplifying the high-octane action a notch higher.
Additionally, Bayonetta 2 references other franchises and shooter segments, adding even more variety to an already extravagant title. The end result of improving on an already impeccable game is an even more polished, colorful, and accessible version for veterans and newcomers alike. However hard to comprehend, the graphics, level design, action, plot, and soundtrack all are a step higher than the original. If you add the cool stunts you get to pull off, like fighting armored centaurs while flying around in a jet fighter, you have an immensely fun entry that packs hours upon hours of replayability just for fun.
1. Bayonetta (2009)
The game where it all began. It’s an entry that nailed all essential gameplay elements to a tee, so much so that the next iterations didn’t need to reinvent themselves too much. PlatinumGames outdid themselves in almost every aspect, whether it’s an innovative high-octane combat system, a creative environment filled with colorful characters, and, of course, the strong heroine lead that would inspire several iterations to come, Bayonetta herself.
Most games by this time hardly incorporated a strong female lead to the script, and if they did, it was never in the unforgettable way Bayonetta is portrayed. To this day, Bayonetta remains a force to be reckoned with and the core part of the series without whom the game would be pointless to play.
Admittedly, Bayonetta has aged quite a bit, and Bayonetta 2 is definitely a much better-looking game. However, you can’t deny the bar set by the first entry, creating a seemingly hard-to-surpass hack-and-slash combat system. It’s still hard to imagine PlatinumGames was able to raise the bar higher with the sequels, though looking back, it’d have been tough to create such a deep, gratifying system if the first entry didn’t do much of the heavy lifting itself.
So, what’s your take? Do you agree with our ranking of all Bayonetta games? Let us know down in the comments or over on our socials here.